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Turing House school site?

(139 Posts)
Shooting4themoon Sun 16-Feb-14 18:37:43

Does anyone have any further information on the sale of Imperial College London playing fields to this free school?
Our school use these grounds for all our pitch sports and haven't heard any rumours, has anyone else?

Shootingatpigeons Sun 30-Mar-14 09:07:03

strix TH is a school proposal that started with Twickenham parents who did not want their community to break up in the way they do all over the borough when faced with living in a black hole of good school places. They could see that with the Catholic School proposal being given priority it was the only way to get new school places. The Egerton road proposal didn't emerge until later and then proposing far too few places, too late (2017) to meet the need. I don't think that need has in any way gone away, indeed the 2014 application figures are showing that the risks to the Council forecasts are materialising.

RET are not a sponsor like GEMS or Belleview who are looking for opportunities to exploit the education market created by the desperate need for school places with proposals that are rooted in their self interest. It is assisting a parent body to achieve their aims which are rooted in the community's needs and desires. I think most parents understand that and will not stop supporting the group of parents who have worked so hard to get this far. It is not for want of trying that they have encountered this hurdle which is of the politician's making.

BayJay Sat 29-Mar-14 21:08:44

Strix, council forecasts indicate two 150 PAN schools are needed by 2017. TH has already been pre-approved by the DfE, so is first in the queue. The REEC school can't overtake it in the queue, and would only be pre-approved on the basis that more places are definitely needed beyond the ones that TH will provide.

Even then, as the REEC school isn't proposed to open until 2017, current Y5 and Y4 would have no incentive to 'switch' their support to it.

ikkenu Sat 29-Mar-14 18:59:35

I think it's a setback but not the end. If there was room at one of the HA or TA sites to expand to say 250 pupils plus a school for 180 at the other (Turing?), and another 150 at Egerton Road, you'd get lots of extra capacity in that side of the borough (if not for Barnes...). The question of sixth forms when the schools are operated by different sponsors makes things much more complicated - maybe the Swedish group would throw in the towel and let the pupils get a decent selection of courses at Richmond College while taking on more 11-16 aged pupils. Or Turing House could do the same at Egerton Road if it came to it! There could be some creative staff sharing arrangement.

I just can't see at what point schools get to change sponsor. But we have a general election in a year so maybe the rules will all change.

Strix Sat 29-Mar-14 18:27:14

I agree that it is time to debate (publicly) whether parents in West London are interested is a Swedish style education. They could consolidate onto one site and give TA to Turing. That would be a great idea. But it won't happen.

I am sorry to say that I think Turing will not happen in Twickenham at all. The recent events have shattered public support. It will be very very hard to now secure a site in Twickenham. I think people who want a non faith based co-ed education will now put their efforts behind REEC. They've got a site.

And I think RET will have to take its Turing plans to another borough and start over with a new set of parents who will be just as hungry for this school as the Twickenham parents were.

Shootingatpigeons Sat 29-Mar-14 13:01:46

tess I think you have to be a little careful. Both TA and HA are almost full, there is demand for what they offer. They are also improving, if not fast enough for OFSTED.

I totally agree that in the face of the huge pupil increase Turing for which there is huge parent demand should be given every support, and it appears that the Council are doing that.

The issue of what is to be done about TA and HA is I think separate. I do not agree with the argument that Turing should be put on the back burner, or sites given to exclusive faith schools, because a new school that meets parental demand threatens TA and HA, parents won't be shepherded into schools they don't think are right for their children. Those allocated to Turing are now planning to move, go private or home school rather than allow that to happen, as parents have done in this borough for years. There are already more than enough pupils to fill all the academies, Turing and a couple of other state schools beside if schools were meeting the demands of parents (if the proportion of Year 6s going into the borough's state schools were just the average of the ten most affluent London boroughs there would be 300 more pupils for whom spaces would have to be found, two new 5 form entry schools, quite aside from the projected increase in the cohort size). The current education strategy manages down demand through deterring parents who feel they have no choice. So TA and HA have to win the confidence of parents to succeed. They need time to do that clearly, OFSTED feel there is fine tuning needed to the approach but how much time, and at what point the Secretary of State calls time I am not sure.

I thought ikkenus earlier post was interesting, the suggestion that if TA/HA cannot attract OFSTED approval and parental demand in the next ?years that perhaps they should accept that there is not demand for two schools offering that educational model, and consolodate on one site, perhaps with further expansion on that site. That sounds a more rational use of valuable sites.

bluestars Fri 28-Mar-14 11:26:03

tess73 - The local council has no say in closing any acadamy. This can only be done by the Acadamy Trust itself or the Secretary of State.
According to council forecasts, to provide for the primary bulge coming through the system, we need all the existing secondary schools (all academies) as well as 2 new schools by 2017.

tess73 Fri 28-Mar-14 10:57:38

What i'd like to understand is how the council can sit by and watch underperforming schools (nb TA) which lack parental demand, yet a school which only exists in principle is massively oversubscribed and completely full. Doesn't that tell them something?
If a school isn't supported, or you have to force kids into it by offering no other option, then surely it should close and the facilities be handed over to the team which can show massive support?
Or am i missing something in my oversimplistic view?
As much as people are/were up in arms re St RR it is shown to have full support of the 6 outstanding catholic primaries.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 27-Mar-14 11:45:55

reddidi there are suggestions of various site options in the public sphere, some are discussed here. Not all would be vulnerable to the risks of commercial negotiation, and the risk analysis is more concerned with whether when and how planning obstacles could be overcome. This is fundamentally about getting the DofE to understand the risks better and it is very political because in this borough school place provision has become extremely political as a result of the Catholic school issue strix has mentioned. However it is reassuring that the Council do seem to have finally understood the strength of parental feeling on the issue.

I am not as involved as bayjay as my children are now older but I do understand why this school is so badly wanted and needed.

BayJay Thu 27-Mar-14 11:03:02

Reddidi, I'm one of the parents on the TH Steering Group.

I didn't mean securing a site was a tick box exercise. Clearly not. I meant the decision to open the school in temporary accommodation is a tick box exercise. That isn't intended to trivialise the decision. As in many important business decisions there are certain conditions that need to be met to mitigate risk and in this case they have not yet been met.

Strix Thu 27-Mar-14 10:57:39

I know what their official "position" is. But actions speak louder than words and they seem rather complacent at best. For starters, if they hadn't given the Clifden Road site away (not sold, but given) then there would be a permanent home for Turing. And, having done that, they don't seem particularly proactive in helping Turing to secure another permanent site. Perhaps I'm wrong. You are certainly closer to them than I am. But, then, I have no vested interest in not offending them.

I would like to see everyone put the politics aside and get on with the business of educating these 11 year olds, who are far too young to be used as political pawns.

reddidi Thu 27-Mar-14 10:50:59

BayJay it sounds like you are involved as more than just a bystander here, what is your interest?

Securing (i.e. signing contracts for) a permanent site is NOT a tick box exercise, it is a vital commercial hurdle for any school to achieve before committing to opening on a temporary site. Whatever the obstacles in the way of a permanent site are, they would cost a lot more to overcome if the school can be held to ransom because it is already open.

BayJay Thu 27-Mar-14 10:18:00

Strix, you have misinterpreted Richmond Council's position on TH. They very much want it and need it. They assumed it would happen as much as everyone else.

They have helped to coordinate the REEC partnership because it is a much more complex project, involving rebuilding of the college, relocation of Clarendon school, and relocation of Haymarket.

Both schools are needed so LBRuT are helping to secure an additional site for TH within the borough.

Sites have been identified. One of them just needs to get to the point of sufficient security to enable the school to open in temp accommodation. Its a tick-box exercise, but its important, because the risks of opening in temp accommodation need to be managed.

Strix Thu 27-Mar-14 09:38:59

Ah right. Yes, we got a letter round on that one. But, as the planned opening is for the year after DS goes to senior school I haven't given it much thought. But I do know that people in the Heathfields area worry about the Orleans Park "catchment" shrinking. Their next likely school allocation is not something they want, so again this school will have great local support.

It is a shame that Turing has been unable to secure a permanent site, and it does very much appear the Richmond council does not actually want the school in the Richmond Borough. I can't understand why. But, I suspect RET will have to look at a new borough for their school. Can this be done? Or is the "go-ahead" conditional on putting the school in the borough in which the original application was made?

BayJay Thu 27-Mar-14 08:08:55

Stix, I think she meant the REEC partnersip free school proposed for Egerton Rd for 2017. It is needed in adfition to TH.

The council's forecasts don't distinguish explicitly by area. We're a small borough, long and thin, carved up by rivers and roads, so its a significant complication. However, the site options are so few that it would be disingenuous to suggest there is much choice in where new schools are located.

The TH admissions point was devised in consultation with the council for that reason, to cater for an area of projected future need.

ikkenu Thu 27-Mar-14 08:08:37

The Richmond College one. Maybe that's too. If you live in Barnes there seem to be new schools springing up every year, but not one of them handy for Barnes!

Strix Thu 27-Mar-14 07:54:33

What is the co-ed school near St. Margarets?

ikkenu Wed 26-Mar-14 16:42:37

If mombassagirl is defending her local school against new threats, whoever runs it, that's fine. The quality argument from Strix is separate from the capacity argument from shootingatpigeons but the council has a legal duty to make sure it has places to offer. Even the capacity argument gets spun sometimes when you are counting increases in a different part of the borough, e.g. North Sheen or Barnes, or the Catholic school bulge classes, to justify a co-ed school near Whitton which may soon be followed up by another co-ed school near St Margaret's.

There's a lot of politics and spin from all sides - the politicians, RISC, the Catholic diocese, the academies and free school groups - we all know that.

BayJay Wed 26-Mar-14 13:44:06

Strix, sorry, the sandcastle comment was meant as lighthearted. I just forgot the smiley. I'm just trying trying to keep the peace.

At the end of the day, all of the local schools, and TH too, are or will be part of the same family of schools and we'll all know people who will send their children to all of the schools, and people who work there, and people who are governors there. Their experience is important too.

All our schools work together to support each other, through initiatives such as Education Richmond. TH will be part of that too. It isn't separate. All the places are needed because of the bulge of children coming through the system.

Strix Wed 26-Mar-14 13:29:56

I think that on a thread about the need for new school in the area, it is valid to point out that the reason parents want that school is because they don't like their other choice(s).

If all of the schools in the Richmond Borough were lovely, there would not be so much support for Turing.

I have bent over backwards to support Turing, even though we weren't offered a place because I think the tragedy here belongs to the children who will not be able to go there. I have no self interest. My DD was not offered a place. And I think your sandcastle comment is a tad unwarranted.

I feel the children who have had their preferred school place at Turing ripped away in the 11th hour have been wronged; and I wish I could do something more (and not less) to support them. I am lucky to have gotten a school place I am happy with for my DD. But, I don't want to say "I'm alright, Jack" and walk away.

When did education start being about political diplomacy and stop being about the children's education?

What a crying shame.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 26-Mar-14 13:17:22

Perhaps mombassagirl is unaware of the background. For many parents this is all about wanting a place for their child in a "traditional" inclusive coed comprehensive local community school. Plenty of parents in the borough send their children happily to such local schools and all bar one are oversubscribed. That one, Richmond Park Academy, as bayjay highlights, has recovered from a disgraceful period of underinvestment and poor leadership which saw it lose local and OFSTED confidence, and saw a 46% increase in applications this year, with an even greater increase in applications from the local community.

However in the face of a huge increase in the pupil cohort, it will have increased by 35% between 2013 and 2017, the Council decided to embrace an educational strategy they titled "choice and diversity". The two other academies including Twickenham Academy were handed to a Swedish education provider who makes use of an educational approach based on targeted individualised learning via their own computer based systems that was previously untried in the UK. And the site of a former community school was given to the Catholic Church to set up an controversially voluntary aided school so that it could select exclusively on faith criteria. As bayjay says many parents are happy at the two academies and everyone wants them to succeed but many parents do not think that somewhat idiosyncratic educational approach and the ethos and aims of the school are right for their child. And OFSTED clearly have reservations too, and feel that there is further fine tuning of the approach needed to make it effective for the cohorts of the schools. Parental demand for those schools is stagnant, down 5% at Hampton and up 5% at Twickenham. Choice is only choice if there are enough places for there to be a real choice.

Turing was established by parents to establish the sort of inclusive local school that there is huge demand for, and that, already this year with over 200 more applications than places, is needed too.

ikkenu Wed 26-Mar-14 12:58:22

Be careful with Ofsted reports - Teddington has been consistently 'Good' and the most popular school in the borough for years. Grey Court was 'Satisfactory' (i.e. requires improvement' until last year but upgraded to 'Outstanding after a single Ofsted report. Twickenham Academy has a new head starting in September which could give it a shot of energy.

BayJay Wed 26-Mar-14 12:15:56

Yes, I know, you were responding to an accusation, so defended your position. But people are understandably sensitive, and you need to be careful not to knock down other people's sandcastles just because you think yours is bigger.

Strix Wed 26-Mar-14 11:50:18

I understand there will be people out there who don't like my view of Twickenham Academy. And I was going to leave it alone. But, since reading the accusations of bigotry and snobbery, I though it appropriate to put forward the credible reasons upon which I (and many other like me) have formed that view.

There is also more to the performance of the school than a full on bells and whistles open evening.

Together the league tables and Ofsted reports say quite a lot about a school .

BayJay Wed 26-Mar-14 11:09:34

Strix, I think we all know that schools are about more than league tables and Ofsted reports. Those of us who went along to recent open evenings, and who have many friends whose children are at those schools, know that there is a much broader picture to be considered. Many children are happy and thriving there. My own DS was certainly impressed by his visit.

The school may not be right for you, and that's fine, but in the interests of good community relations I suggest you use a bit more diplomacy on a public forum.

tess73 Wed 26-Mar-14 11:06:59

Why would they start with a yr8?

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